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In this 5-part series of Soul Sessions, we explore different spiritual traditions and how they are used in personal development and coaching. In this episode, we discuss Spiritual Materialism or mixing spiritual principles with abundance and financial success as taught in books like “Think and Grow Rich” and the misconceptions about wealth and spirituality. We …
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What is the law of attraction and is science replacing spirituality?
Have you heard of the Law of Attraction?
Maybe you tried to think positive or put together a vision board and wondered does this really work? In this episode, we explain the science behind what some people call the spiritual or universal laws and how you can apply them in your life. 53: Is the Law of Attraction – Science or Spirituality? Debi tells her story about getting the DVD, “The Secret” and how she realized she already knew this secret. Now fifteen years later everyone jumped on the law of attraction bandwagon and there are many different people teaching this content. Rob talks about the language of the law of attraction and how it comes from the New Thought movement in the early 1900’s. We discuss whether these spiritual ideas are outdated because now we understand science. We have a natural curiosity to learn about ourselves and we still have to answer the big questions including spiritual needs.
If you love to hear about science (neuroscience and quantum physics) and how spirituality fit together, you will fully enjoy this episode. Understand what is spirituality? Spirituality is not a belief, that is religion. We explain the law of karma and other spiritual ideas.
If you want to explore more, check out our new POWER OF THE GITA program that starts this month!
Debi: Episode number 53, Debi and Dr. Rob Show. This show is about that Law of Attraction that everyone talks about. Is it science or spirituality or a mixture of both? We’re going to clear the air and give you some insight on how to use those spiritual laws in a very powerful way to create the life you really want, so stay tuned. This is the Debi and Dr. Rob Show. You are in the right place if you are tired of the basic self-help and you’re ready for a higher level of teaching in neuroscience, Jungian psychology and Eastern wisdom. We offer world-class personal development and coach training for evolving women entrepreneurs to help you go to the next level of growth in success, relationships, and living your purpose, so let’s get started. Dr. Rob, episode number 53. They say it couldn’t be done.
Dr. Rob: A long time coming and it’s finally here. We’re going to talk about the Law of Attraction.
Debi: Yes, a lot of people have asked us that, but before we begin today’s show, I wanted to just mention that if you find our podcast and the content interesting, intriguing, mind-expanding, and you think, “I would really like to learn this at a deeper level. I’d like to train in this process so that I can help others,” either add to your own coaching business or become a coach, we have good news. We have just a few spots left for our fall class for the certification of Jungian spiritual life coaches and the application deadline is October 6th. If you do not apply by October 6th, you’re going to have to wait until next year for our next class.
This is really important. If you have been thinking about doing this program and been putting it off and saying, “I’m going to wait until next year, I’m going to wait until next year,” this is the very last class that we will have as much personal coaching with Rob, because our business is expanding, because our time is limited, we are not going to as many private coaching sessions with Rob in our next class, so if you want to have the full experience of private mentorship with Rob, this is it. Of course, it’s going to be available, but it’ll be almost double what we’re charging this year. Believe me, if you can find a way, make it happen, because this is a really great deal and the last time you’ll get to have that deep connection with Rob all through the program at the price point that we have.
Dr. Rob: Yes. If you’re interested at all, sign up. At least get on a call with us and ask us about the possibility of becoming a coach.
Debi: Yes, just get a free consultation with me. All you need to do is fill out the form. You can go to jungianlifecoach.com and it’ll take you to our page about the coaching program and it starts in– It started already, but you can jump in now. The live event is in October, we have another one in March. You can jump in on this class before it gets along too far and be a part of this amazing journey. Some of our coaches already that have started have seen, even just joining the program, some amazing changes in their life already and they’re really excited for the journey and you’re going to be in the company of a great mind.
Dr. Rob: Yes, that’s an added bonus is that you get to be part of this incredible group.
Debi: If you’re enjoying this deep conversation we have in our podcast and want to be more involved and teach this to other people, help other people live bigger lives, apply today at jugianlifecoach.com. Okay, Rob, let’s get down to business, the Law of Attraction. I remember when a friend of mine, she was a client actually, she said, “Have you seen the movie The Secret?” I had done hypnotherapy and I learned this stuff a long time ago and I was like, “The Secret, oh my God, [chuckles] I’m missing out on something that I don’t know,” and I couldn’t wait. Back then you couldn’t see it online, so I had to send for the DVD and I was all excited when I got it, I couldn’t wait to put in my DVD player, that’s how long ago that movie came out.
I put it in and then they were talking about this secret, they were talking about this secret, and then all of a sudden they go, “The secret is the Law of Attraction,” and my whole body just went, “I know this already. [chuckles] This isn’t a secret.” But it’s so amazing after just understanding, that movie actually set off so many careers in self-help, personal development. The internet was just starting to become popular, so everyone jumped on the bandwagon of the Law of Attraction, there was a lot of attraction workshops and vision board workshops and everyone’s talking about visualization. One of my clients was so cute, he said, “Debi, all this stuff we’ve been working on the past year, now everyone’s going to find out about it. [chuckles] Everyone’s going to know that your thoughts [unintelligible 00:05:20] your life.” He was so worried and I’m like, “There’s plenty of abundance, don’t worry.”
Dr. Rob: That was the whole idea.
Debi: I know, but it was so funny. I was like, “The secret’s out now.”
Dr. Rob: Yes. A lot of people don’t know that that whole language of the Law of Attraction comes from a movement that, I guess, started in the early 1900 and it’s called New Thought. The New Thought schools and philosophers at that time in America were very much influenced by the Eastern gurus that were coming over at that time. There was a few. Vivekananda was coming over and then later Yogananda.
Debi: Also, Think and Grow Rich came out like in the 1920s, and Wallace Wattles wrote The Science of Getting Rich back then. There were a lot of those books that came out and teachers that started talking about potential and your mind.
Dr. Rob: Yes, an interesting history that really hasn’t been written about that much or hasn’t been popularized, but the way it reached the current age was through those ideas of New Thought and they were infused with the religious spirituality ideas, of course.
Debi: Yes, a lot of them are very Christian-based if you think about it. They quote Jesus and they quote Bible verses, so a lot of the Christian model was taken into account there.
Dr. Rob: Yes. I think in our current age, one of the big questions is do we need spirituality given that we have neuroscience now and physics and all this incredible scientific advances. Now we’re getting into artificial intelligence and robots are about to explode onto the scene, so do we need the Law of Attraction and other spiritual ideas to–
Debi: Are they outdated now because we have science?
Dr. Rob: Yes. Us as Jungians or people that study Jung, let’s say students of Jung– Jung’s idea, and he was working around the same time really, because he started in the early 1900s as well, his main idea was that it doesn’t matter how advanced we get technologically, our nature, our curiosity about life, about ourselves, those big questions that we have, they’re not going to go away just because we have a technology and we have computers and we have the Google and artificial intelligence. We still have to answer those big questions for ourselves. He says, “Your spiritual needs are not going to go away just because you have technology and science.” Because, first of all, science is not meant to answer those big questions. Science is really a way of looking at what are my senses telling me and how can I verify if that’s true and if other people are seeing the same thing as I am.
Debi: A lot of psychology is based on science, where it’s behaviorism and testing and research-
Dr. Rob: Yes.
Debi: -and what the evidence, like you said, of the senses, of witnesses, of experience tell us.
Dr. Rob: Yes.
Debi: It’s very material. It’s very physical. It’s very external.
Dr. Rob: Yes, it’s upfront on those things. It’s as we’re assuming there is a physical reality, first of all, so it’s making a big assumption and then it’s following through on that. It’s called empiricism. Empiricism simply means, “What can I see, what can I touch, what can I weigh and measure, and I’m going by that.” So, it wasn’t meant to replace spirituality.
Debi: Because spirituality is all about the unseen.
Dr. Rob: Exactly, and even the people that invented science, like Newton, most of the writings were about alchemy and very mystical things.
Debi: But, then, they took only the little piece.
Dr. Rob: Yes. I think there’s errors on both sides. The people that say, “Oh, because we have science now, we have a way of verifying things. You don’t need the–”
Debi: Religion is dead, especially.
Dr. Rob: Yes, or spirituality is superstition and old school. That’s wrong because it wasn’t meant to replace the deeper need and those bigger questions that we have. To replace it with scientific fact, man, you’re giving up the richness of being alive–
Debi: And being human, that’s– There’s things that you can’t put in words too.
Dr. Rob: Yes.
Debi: These mystical experiences that we can have that are way beyond just measurements of tools.
Dr. Rob: Yes. Then, you hear people like Dawkins and the selfish gene guy, putting down the religious people because they think, “Oh, they’re being silly or childish or superstitious.” But it’s really that they’re setting up a straw bad guy and saying, “The fundamentalists are the ones that represent religion and spirituality, and us scientists are so enlightened.”
Debi: We’ve based everything on facts and, like you said, empirical evidence.
Dr. Rob: Yes, but that’s a false argument because that’s not spirituality, that’s just a cultural manifestation, people that believe or follow certain rituals. Now, let me just finish this thought. On the other side, people that think, “Science sucks, technology sucks, let’s get back to nature and spirituality,” there is something to that, in that we need to take care of nature and the planet. It’s our home and we can’t live without it, but you can’t turn back science, you can’t turn back what we already know about technology and what we’ve created. You have to come to terms with it, you have to learn how to use it in a creative way. Both ends of the spectrum, I think, are off.
Dr. Rob: Yes.
Debi: Well, what I wanted to say was that I know there’s a lot- when we used to do a lot of work with love, there was a lot out there about hormones and about your brain and it triggers your brain. Helen Fisher did a lot of research on what your brain does when it’s in love, and attachment theory and all those things. Those are great, but it takes the romantic version of what love is about and the romantic version of what spirituality can be about. What really gives our life richness and meaning that’s far beyond just evidence is a beautiful thing, so what we want to do is bridge both the spirituality and science together. How do we do that? Another thing I’d like to talk about is, what is spirituality? Think about it. Is it a religion? Is it organized religion? There’s people that say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” [chuckles] What does that mean?
Dr. Rob: Right. It’s unfortunate that, let’s say, spirituality has become synonymous with belief. People say, “Do you believe this?” According to your beliefs, you’re categorized as Buddhist or Christian or Muslim or something. Now, the belief thing, really it’s more of a cultural expression. It means you bought into a certain idea of how the universe works and what happens to you after you die and those things. Those beliefs really go back to your culture, your experiences, what made sense to you as you were growing up and what you bought into and why you rejected, all those things. That’s not really what we mean by spirituality. Belief is not spirituality. Belief is simply part of your ego makeup that has helped you define yourself.
Debi: Personal conditioning. Basically, we’re conditioned to believe things are a certain way. We’re conditioned to believe and fear God or praise God or reject God, whatever we are– That’s our belief and that actually comes from, like you said, our social conditioning. Then, this idea of the law, like there’s spiritual laws or the laws of karma, for example. They come from, again, what is your perception? You had mentioned when we were talking earlier today about karma, a lot of people think it’s good and bad. Good karma and bad karma. This social system has turned into their own understanding, but karma is not about good and bad, it’s just cause and effect.
Dr. Rob: Just cause and effect.
Debi: Just, only, just the mind.
Dr. Rob: Really, karma is simply the sum total of your actions and thoughts and ideas that you’ve expressed in your lifetime and how that has conditioned you into what you are today.
Debi: Created like an ego that carries all that conditioning.
Dr. Rob: Absolutely. The sum total of who you are right now is your karma, basically. That’s what is meant by karma. The good and bad, I think, was part of– In the West, we were used to thinking of sin and redemption, that you’re going to get punished for your sins and you need to redeem yourself somehow by good works. It’s that idea superimposed on this more ancient idea of karma.
Debi: When we think about the Law of Attraction and we think about this conversation we’re having about religion, actually this New Thought became a religion. Then, what happened is that people didn’t tease out their own person experience with their own Christianity or their own religion that they have, and they were trying to use this other– Basically, it’s taking two religions and putting them together and trying to make a sense of it. I think there’s a lot of people that got lost in it. Then it becomes, like you said, a belief system, and it’s not really the truth.
Dr. Rob: Right. You have said also earlier that people have been using or trying to use these spiritual principles to obtain something.
Debi: Yes. It’s like, “Get the car.” That’s what was the biggest criticism about the secret is that people said, “Oh, that’s all good and fine, but it’s all about getting fancy cars and jewelry and finding a person, and very little about peace of mind.” I remember when I got caught up in it. I started my first hypnotherapy practice. I needed to make money. I was taking those spiritual laws and applying them like, “Oh, I got to visualize and manifest.” I had my money angel and using that to get material things, but then what happened is that it was never enough.
No matter how much money you make or how much success you get, it’s never enough because you’re really just creating from a materialistic place. When the money comes in, then I’ll feel good, but it’s basically using spirituality, it sounds like blasphemy. You’re using the spiritual wisdom to create material things and it’s not the point that was initially created by the Buddhists and the yogis. It’s not about acquiring material well.
Now, of course, there’s the other side, which is the spiritual people that say, “Oh, reject wealth and reject things in the world. You shouldn’t worry about love. You should just be spiritual.” Both sides, again, the extreme of science and spirituality, you also want to make sure there’s a balance there too. I think it’s going deeper in understanding, number one, who’s the one that’s creating and using these principles, and what are the principles that we should be using, and how should we look at the world. [chuckles] Just a couple of quick questions.
Dr. Rob: Recently, we were doing an interview with somebody. It was so funny because they were saying, “I’m glad you guys didn’t talk about abundance.” The way a lot of people are talking about abundance now that, “Okay, just write a $1 million check and put it in your wallet. That’s going to give you abundance somehow.” We’ve certainly grown beyond that. What has helped us understand this is what we call Jungian spiritual psychology. What is Jungian spiritual psychology? It is essentially looking at this need to understand ourselves and our deeper selves beyond the ego, beyond the persona, and to answer some of these questions that are naturally in us.
You talk to a kid and they have the right questions is, “What am I doing here? Who am I? Why is the sky blue?” Like, “What is the nature of myself and what is the nature of the world?” That’s essentially what they’re asking. That’s philosophy. Jung had this idea that if you can’t get rid of those big questions and you shouldn’t try to because it fulfills our roles as human beings, we need to understand them, not reject anything that we can’t see or measure or weigh, like the physical scientist says, but consider that as human beings, there’s more to us than our bodies and more to us than just our individual experience.
Debi: I was thinking too that if you take the Law of Attraction and say, “I’m going to create wealth,” and then you actually create wealth because it works– There’s a law, If you think positive, you’ll get stuff [chuckles] usually. It will show up for you, but you’re bringing with it all the fears around not having it. If you’re an ego, what will happen is the things you do create with this law of attraction will end up inflating your ego. We’ve seen this happen with a lot of people that have had real great success teaching the Law of Attraction, and they crashed, because they believed they were the creator, like their ego was the creator and not the divine. Basically, they ended up having the feeling they had superpowers, but their ego was taking credit for it. They hadn’t done the work understanding who they really are on a deep level and they just rushed ahead.
I always caution people that when you’re using those spiritual laws, you have to understand that you’re not the ego, and that is really the first step, or you’re going to get caught in a trap of chasing things, never feeling satisfied. If you do attract “what you want,” you’re not going to be satisfied. They’re going to be an emptiness and a feeling of, “It’s not enough and I need more.”
Dr. Rob: Well, Socrates said there’re two tragedies in life. One is that you don’t get your heart’s desire. Two is that you do get your heart’s desires. That’s what he meant is that if you do get them, but you’re still caught up in the ego. You’re not going to be satisfied and you’re going to think, “Oh, I thought these things were meant to make me happy. I got them, I have them all and I’m still not happy.” They painted themselves into a corner. The spiritual psychology is really about understanding that deeper process in us, understanding that we’re not the ego and understanding how do we do it? How do we get beyond the ego?
Debi: If we’re not the ego, who are we? Instead of just believing, like you said, in religion where you just read a book, the Bible or some other spiritual book or Think And Grow Rich, and you say, “Hey, I believe this because this person said this or this book says this.” Then you’re really back in religion, but what you want to do is have a direct experience of the truth of what is beyond your ego. That’s really the key. So, one of the ways that the ego operates is survival. Anytime you’re in fear or anytime you need something externally to feel comfortable, to feel fulfilled, to feel happy, you are basically making something outside of you more powerful than you. I call it putting it up on the pedestal.
If you try to use these laws or your spiritual work to get those things, you’re going to be very unhappy. Maybe short-term you’ll feel good, but eventually, if you don’t do the inner examination and free yourself of that attachment, that ego survival attachment, you are going to feel dissatisfied. Jim Carrey famously said, “I wish everyone would be wildly successful, famous, have model wives, drive fancy cars, have mansions, and then realize that that’s not really what makes you happy.” I’m paraphrasing him.
Dr. Rob: Yes. The spiritual psychology, then, is a way to really understand the Law of Attraction, the spiritual laws, even the teachings of the religions in the deeper sense, but understanding them from that deeper part of our psyche, not from the ego. Because it’s like I tell a lot of people, “Yes, you know all those beautiful things that you read about on Facebook and all those spiritual teachers that speak today and teach abundance and possibility. Those things are true, but you have to do your internal work first, then those principles apply.” If they don’t, you’re still on the surface, you’re still creating ego and you’re just trying to add spirituality to the ego piece, to the persona, to the mask we wear.
Debi: You see sometimes people do that. They dress differently and they have to feel like they are super spiritual and they have to talk spiritual and they have this spiritual persona and they have to speak in a quiet voice and forgive everyone and be kind. What happens is that the shadow is building up. If you build your ego on this spiritual ideal, and you’re really doing it from an ego perspective, the opposite goes in the shadow. All the anger, all the desire to do something destructive, all the power a lot of times gets thrown into the shadow and then you’re really just trying to– You’ll get upset and triggered with people, but then you feel like you can’t express your anger because you’re a spiritual person, so you see this showing up.
I remember when I first started doing spiritual work, I felt like there was a judgment of how spiritual people should be. They have to be walking on water and not make mistakes and not hurt people. We’re human and we’re messy with our own emotions and we’re messy with other people’s emotions. You just accept that. Then it’s also accepting that about ourselves is really where we start to begin to move beyond the ego. One of the things that I love about the spiritual psychology and the Jungian model is that we go to the deeper level.
We’re not just talking about concepts of spirituality, we’re actually going and having a direct experience of our spiritual nature. For me, visualization is great, but you still feel like you’re making things up, but in the dream work, it really is a profound experienced to know that there’s a deeper part of myself that is saying, “I’m helping you, Deb. I’m on your side. This is what’s happening.” Reflecting back, it’s like this wiser creative force that’s helping me live my life. We all believe in this higher power, but we don’t realize that we have access to it, direct access to our wisdom.
That’s where I feel that with Jungian work you get to go to that deeper level. It’s not just a concept, an intellectual concept of, “Oh, I have a higher self, that’s not my true self.” What most people call their true self is really a perfect ego one that they want to have, but our true self is all the messiness, it’s all the beauty and all the things we don’t like about ourselves and then all the things that we haven’t discovered about ourselves yet. That’s our true self.
Dr. Rob: Yes. Some people have asked, “Well, why should I do this? I mean, if I’m doing okay or appear to be doing okay, I’ve survived, I’ve made a good life for myself so far. Why do I need to do this deeper work?” It’s really that there’s more to us than just what’s on the surface and building an external appearance of things. Now, we need those things. We’re not saying get rid of those things or push away success and abundance and all that. We need those things to do our work in the world. Really, what the spiritual psychology does, it balances out that life that we live externally with a deeper mystical aspect of our life.
Debi: So you’re not just living on the surface.
Dr. Rob: Exactly. That balance, Jung said, is really a third element that comes into play. What happens when we get in touch with our unconscious mind is it creates a new synthesis, which he called the self, and it’s what people call the higher self. It creates a new sense of ourselves that is both this external, temporary life of cars and computers and work and all this beautiful stuff, with that internal mystical life of the soul, of the spirit. That balance is really what we’re looking for. It gives us a new sense of being in the world where it’s not just about our little ego life, but we’re connected to something bigger. To the cosmos, to the divine mind, whatever you call it. It connects us directly to that source.
Debi: You know what you just said is so powerful, because it reminds me that ultimately, the reason why we’re here is to have that experience, is to have that deeper experience of our spiritual nature. A lot of times we don’t know why were dissatisfied in life. We think, “Well, if I had a better job, or if I made more money, or if I had a kid, or got married, or if I did my TED talk, or became famous and had a bestselling book,” all these things that we try to do or achieve with the Law of Attraction, what we really– Underneath that desire is the desire for this mystical experience. We think it’s in those things and we’re mistaken, and that’s why we’re off the wrong track. If we’re thinking it’s outside of us or it’s in the future, “One day when I get those things, then I’ll have this mystical bliss in my life.”
Now, what I suggest is that we use the things that we desire, the desire to be a bestselling author, desire to have lots of money or desire to have a great partner, as a vehicle to understand our spiritual nature. We can still have those things and still use those things, but they’re in the right place. They’re not there to give us spiritual enlightenment, they’re there to help us realize that it’s already inside of us. So, we can use those projects that we have as a way to understand and open up deeper parts of ourselves.
A lot of times, I remember my life, the one thing– The times that I had the biggest transformation are when the external world stopped cooperating with me. It was like there’s a place, and we all get there, where it’s like, “Okay, the world’s not cooperating right now, I’m not getting what I wanted. I’m stuck.” It forces you to go inward because you can’t get out there anymore. When I broke my– I had my manless, jobless and homeless day, I said I had– I didn’t have a man to go to anymore, I didn’t have a job to go to anymore, I didn’t even know what my purpose was. The only thing I could do was go inward. I was not, and it was the biggest blessing.
You don’t want to get to that point in life, you trying to chase carrots with the Law of Attraction. What will happen is that when you do this work and you go inward, and you see yourself beyond the ego, when you do apply these principles, they happen really quickly. One of the things we tell our clients is that, “Be careful when you do this work because everything gets created faster, at a faster pace. If you stay in ego, you could try the Law of Attraction, it may take you a long time to create something, or you may still hit a wall because you’re still acting in ego, you’re not even having access to all your spiritual power.”
When you individuate, as Jung would call it, we end up having more access to a more broader experience of our power and then when we want abundance, it flows. When we [unintelligible 00:33:30] ready for that great relationship, it shows up. When we have a message that we want to be delivered in a bestselling book, the things, the world will tend to conspire to help us, but if we’re working from ego, it’s like we’re battling this physical world without the resources of our– [unintelligible 00:33:49] in the spiritual work, but we’re not really living a spiritual life.
Dr. Rob: Yes.
Debi: It’s a lot. It’s a big topic, right?
Dr. Rob: Yes. If you have questions on this topic or related topics, please feel free to comment–
Debi: On our Facebook group, Debi and Dr. Rob Show.
Dr. Rob: Yes. We’ll try to do some some podcasts on those topics.
Debi: Yes, I know we covered a lot today, but tying it back to spirituality and science, it’s the same thing. Materialism and spirituality, we need both. We are here not to flow on clouds and dance with unicorns on rainbows, although that would be fun in dreams. We’re here to live and have full human experience, to feel pain, to feel love, to feel passion, to feel orgasms, to feel the sadness and grief and joy and newness and the gamut of being a human being.
We don’t want to give that up for spiritual life, but we also don’t want to get so overly dependent on these human needs that we forget the spiritual life, and we don’t want to escape the humanity by just being all spiritual. We want to have that synergy, like you said. It is really important. Yes, I’d love to hear your questions about this topic. Challenge us if you disagree, and let us know how this has changed you by going to our podcast Facebook group, and we’ll see you next time on the Debi and Dr. Rob Show.
Dr. Rob: All right. Take care.
Dr. Rob: Much love.[music]
Debi: You’ve been listening to the Debi and Dr. Rob Show. To find out more about us, you can visit us on our website at debiandrob.com. Also, please don’t forget to subscribe to us on iTunes or Google Play. We’d love to see you on every show. Thank you so much for joining us and we hope you remember to believe in your biggest dreams.